Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage on Aruba and Curaçao

WILLEMSTAD, ORANJESTAD - Same-sex partners in Aruba and Curaçao must be able to marry each other, the joint Court of Justice of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba has ruled. This is currently not possible on the islands. 


The court finds that same-sex partners are now denied the right to participate in marriage and all the values associated with it. “The court has come to the conclusion that excluding same-sex marriage is in violation of the prohibition of discrimination and incompatible with state regulations.” 


The court's decision follows two cases filed in Aruba and Curaçao, including by the human rights organization Human Rights Caribbean on behalf of two women who want to get married. 


The judge previously ruled in the latter case that there is no justification for refusing same-sex couples a civil marriage and instructed the legislator to take measures to eliminate the unlawful discrimination. 


Discrimination prohibition 


The Civil Code of Curaçao stipulates that a marriage can only be entered into between a man and a woman. According to the judge, this provision is contrary to the principle of equality and the prohibition of discrimination as stated in the Curaçao constitution.  


In Aruba it has been possible since September last year to enter into a registered partnership with someone of the same sex. Last June, the Aruban political party Accion21 introduced a bill to introduce same-sex marriage on the island.  


This ruling does not mean that same-sex couples can marry equally. An appeal and a possible ruling in cassation must first be awaited. 




“A very important step for human rights in Curaçao and Aruba,” said Janice Tjon Sien Kie of the Human Rights Caribbean Foundation, who initiated the case in Curaçao.  


According to Tjon Sien Kie, it is "an unexpected Sinterklaas present that we did not see coming." She finds the clarity of the judge particularly striking. In the first instance, the initiative was placed with the Curaçao parliament to come up with legislation. Now the Court has come to the conclusion, both for a case filed in Aruba and in Curaçao, that the exclusion of same-sex marriage is in violation of the prohibition of discrimination and incompatible with state regulations.  


Journalist Mariano Heyden, born in Aruba and working in Curaçao, states that the judge's ruling makes it clear "that the government and parliament have failed in their task of drawing up laws on this". According to him, they are now justified by the court.  


The COC in the Netherlands is also pleased with the court's decision to make marriage accessible to people of the same sex. "It is an affirmation and recognition of their rights and that means a lot," says a spokesman. The interest group hopes that no cassation will follow so that the marriage can be a fact as soon as possible.